As a prequel to our next post we figured we’d give a bit of a walkthrough on how to butcher a rabbit in preparation to create something tasty with it.
First off you’ll need a few things:
Plenty of room to work
Sturdy cutting board
8″ chefs knife or 6″ cleaver
4-6″ utility or boning knife
Bowl for scraps
Laying the rabbit on its back open the cavity and remove and internal organs that still remain along with any gossamer tissue you find. Most farm raised and packaged rabbits will still contain the kidneys. You can save these if you’d like.
Next you’ll want to remove any silver skin that remains on the rabbit. Think of this as a second layer of fatty skin. While the fatty layer of most animals are delicious if crisped the silver skin of a rabbit does not fall into that category and can be quite tough. You can remove it all during this step or go piece by piece as you butcher the rest.
With the fatty tissue and leftover innards removed we can begin butchering in earnest. I like to start with the front legs first. The front legs of a rabbit are not attached to the rest of it by joints so removing them is simple. Work your fingers along the base of the leg until you can separate it from the remainder of the tissue and cleanly slice it free. Simple as that. Be sure to maximize the amount of meat left on the shoulder by cutting as close to the chest as possible. Waste not, want not.
With both front legs removed we can move onto where the bulk of the meat is, the hind legs. These aren’t quite as simple as the front as there is a lot of tissue surrounding the hip joint. To make this easier lay the rabbit on its back and firmly grasp each leg. Pull apart until you hear the hip joints break and open up. This will give you easier access to finding and cutting the ball and socket joint.
After you’ve opened up the hip joints try and find the bone with your fingers and slowly work you knife around it until you’ve cut away the tissue around the socket. At this point you can either cut through it with kitchen sheets or break it free by hand.
With the front and hind legs removed we can start working on the saddle and loins. As pictured above you want to stretch the loins from the side of the saddle and cut as close to the body as possible. This isn’t the biggest cut of meat but consider it as rabbit bacon. When crisply cooked it is delicious.
After the loins have been removed and set aside for crisping we can work on the saddle. Other than the hind legs this is where the bulk of the meat will come from. The longer the saddle the better so keep that in mind when shopping snd be sure to avoid placing your shot in this area when hunting. With your chefs knife or cleaver find where the spine meets the pelvic joints and chop free. If you don’t get a clean cut all the way through don’t worry this end can be broken free by hand quite easily once it’s cut away.
In order to clear away the ribs and front of the rabbit you’ll need to make a few guide cuts to separate the meat from where you intend to cut with your cleaver. This can be done after you remove the pelvis or as pictured you can make your cuts prior to chopping.
Be sure to remove all the silver skin and gossamer like fat you encounter. On this particular one I cleaned it up a bit more before cooking.